Blog Entry

Previewing San Jose: Thursday's Games

Posted on: March 16, 2010 5:52 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2010 11:12 pm
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DREW FRANKLIN

For thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers, the area previously known as El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe was inhabited by several groups of Ohlone Native Americans.  Thursday, San Jose, as it is now called, will be inhabited by the East and West regions of the NCAA tournament - which makes absolutely no sense.

Four first-round NCAA tournament games will be played at HP Pavilion Thursday and rumor has it that madness will be in attendance.  And just as Juan Bautista de Anza led Spanish expeditions into California in 1775, I will lead you through the San Jose site of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.  Only I won't be wearing a funny hat.

(4) Vanderbilt vs. (13) Murray State, 2:30 pm

VANDERBILT

The Vanderbilt Commodores, coached by SEC Coach of the Year and King of the Hill neighbor Kevin Stallins, finished the season with a 24-8 overall record and a 12-4 record in conference play.  They are one of the nation's highest scoring teams with 77 points per game led by guard Jermaine Beal's 14.7.  Beal is joined in double figures by A.J. Ogilvy and Jeffery Taylor with 13.4, and John Jenkins' 10.9 ppg.  

MURRAY STATE

The Ohio Valley Conference champions compiled a 30-4 record including a 17-game win streak.  The Racers can hurt you from anywhere as they have five players averaging in double-figures: Ivan Aska (10.6), B.J. Jenkins (10.5), Tony Easley (10.5), Danero Thomas (10.4), and Isaiah Canaan (10.3).  Murray State shot 50% from the field this season, the third best team percentage in the nation.

UPSET SPECIAL?

Though Vanderbilt can score with the best of them, the Commodores struggle to rebound and defend the three-pointer.  The Racers are coming in hungry, and if they can get hot from deep, Vanderbilt could fall to the #13 seed.  Which wouldn't be shocking - Vandy lost to #13 Siena just two years ago in the big dance.


(5) Butler vs. (12) UTEP, 4:45 pm

BUTLER

Butler hasn't lost a game since losing 67-57 at UAB on Dec. 22.  They were the only team in the nation to go undefeated in conference play.  The Bulldogs have an NBA prospect in Gordon Hayward, who is averaging 15.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.  Hayward was also named the Horizon League Player of the Year and is the only person named Gordon to excel in sports.

UTEP

The Miners are led by junior point guard Randy Culpepper and his 18 per game.  However, the UTEP's bread 'n butter lies down low with Derrick Caracter.  Caracter is the only Miner with any NCAA tournament experience.  The big man, who was one of the nation's top prospects out of high school, spent two years at Louisville where he was kicked off the team despite being given second, third, and fourth chances from Rick Pitino.  Now, he is averaging 14 and 8 in El Paso and appears to finally have his head on straight.

CONTRAST IN STYLES MAKES BAD DRAW FOR BUTLER

Butler has a good big man in Matt Howard but he struggles when it comes to physical competition.  Physical competition, as in Derrick Caracter.  The former Louisville head-case will have his way with the Bulldogs inside.  It's up to Butler's Gordon Hayward to make up for it on the other end.  Don't count out a 12/13 matchup in the second round of the West Region.



(6) Marquette vs. (11) Washington, 7:20 pm

MARQUETTE

This is the third straight year Marquette has been seeded sixth in the NCAA tournament.  The Golden Eagles enter the tournament having won 11 of their last 14 despite being picked to finish 12th in the Big East in the preseason.  Lazar Hayward averages 18.1 points per game to the lead the team that lost three four-year starters from last season.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies are on a seven game win streak and are finally showing they can be the team we all expected them to be.  But then again, it's hard to tell because the Pac-10 is terrible.

HAYWARD vs. PONDEXTER

Marquette's Lazar Hayward matched up with Washington's Quincy Pondexter is going to be a showdown.  Watch this game just to see these two go head-to-head, if not for anything else.
 
(3) New Mexico vs. (14) Montana, 9:40 pm

NEW MEXICO

Who?  New Mexico?  #3 seed?  That's right, the Lobos are good.  Well, as good as Darington Hobson makes them.  Hobson leads UNM in scoring, rebounds, and assists and was named MWC Player of the Year.  He is Evan Turner if Evan Turner <script src="http://images.cbssports.com/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> went to a smaller school in the desert.

MONTANA

Montana punched its ticket to the dance with one of the most incredible individual performances I've ever seen.   The Grizzlies were down 22 on the road at Weber State in the Big Sky title game before Anthony Johnson went off.  Johnson scored a school record 42 points including the Grizzlies' final 21 points of the game.  Even more impressive, he didn't miss a single shot during that stretch.

HOBSON AND THE LOBOS ARE THE REAL DEAL

Unless Montana's Anthony Johnson can put up another XBox-like performance,  New Mexico will ride Darington Hobson's red and silver trunks on to the next round and beyond.
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Category: NCAAB
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